Toy Party returns tonight

Perhaps the main party of the season is the annual Toy Party, being staged for the eighth successive year. In less than a decade, it has become a don’t miss event, as well as a great cause. Since Toy Party started in 2003, the event has distributed 27,000 toys and gift cards.

Toy Party, tonight at AmericasMart3, is staged by For the Kid in All of Us, established by gay volunteers to help children in need.  In lieu of an admission charge, attendees are asked to bring one unopened toy of at least a $20 value, or a gift card in that amount. More than 20 beneficiaries will be receive the toys.

In 2009, the event had approximately 4,200 in attendance and more are expected this year, according to Christopher Bess, president elect of the organization and chair of the Toy Party. The festivities will be back in the Atrium Building of Americas Mart, says Bess, where the toys will be more prominently on display.

“As you are there, you get to see the toys, which is an impactful part of the event,” he says.

The silent auction, containing hundreds of donated items, is also a significant part of the night.

In its first incarnation, the Toy Party was an event put together by Alex Wan, now the first openly gay man on the Atlanta City Council, for about 75 of his friends.

According to Bess, no one had any idea it would grow so much.

“None of us ever dreamed it would be what it is today,” he says.  “We are so very pleased with the turnout and support from the community.”

He acknowledges that that crowd is still largely gay and lesbian, although it has become more diverse over the years. Besides cocktails and free nibbles, DJ Vicki Powell will spin.

Once the party ends around 9 p.m., the official after party — Playground — begins at Opera Nightclub, sponsored by Fenuxe Magazine and Brad Williams. Bess describes it as an upbeat dance event, ideal for those not wanting to head home just yet. DJ David Knapp mans the turntables.

Eighth Annual Toy Party & Silent Auction
Sunday, Dec. 5
5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
Americas Mart 3/Atrium Building
250 Spring Street, Atlanta, GA 30303